In most forms of learning there is a fairly hierarchical structure to the concepts involved. There might be more than one route up the structure but learning is not secure until the simpler concepts are grasped and the connections between them are made. We may gain some insight into the more complex issues but we will not have fully understood or mastered them until there is sufficient supportive scaffolding to our learning. Most simply put, we cannot run before we can walk. Learning takes time and that alone often puts people off learning because sustained effort is required. David Beckham admitted he was not the most talented young footballer he grew up with but he practised every day and longer than anyone else. Practice alone is usually not sufficient. A skillful coach makes a massive difference to the amount learnt and the speed of progress.
One of the shifts in emphasis in the teaching of mathematics with young children was a focus on identifying gaps in their knowledge which may have occurred years before but without having grasped a key foundational concept true understanding of a more advanced idea was not secure. The child was not ready to learn the advanced concept until the earlier learning had been returned to and taught again.
The disciples were still undergoing their spiritual education and that would not be completed in Jesus’ earthly lifetime. Jesus had already taught the disciples about his forthcoming death and resurrection and many other key features of “New Testament” life and although there had been some inspirational insights along the way e.g. Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the building blocks of spiritual learning were not yet secure and wouldn’t be until they had witnessed and experienced more.
This then was the reason for Jesus words, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ v12 They were going to be in need of an advanced level coach and so the divine plan was for the Holy Spirit to be that person. ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.’ v13 Why this is vital is that these disciples are to be the ones who record Jesus’ life and teaching and write further books included in the New Testament. Jesus was firstly addressing the disciples immediately in front of him regarding their imminent experiences. The things to come were firstly his death, resurrection and ascension. Later on they were to be the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and expansion of the church into the wider world with all its developing issues.
It is upon their Holy Spirit inspired writing that the future church up to our present time is founded. The importance of the New Testament scriptures cannot be over estimated. The same principle also applies to Paul’s writing although he was not yet a disciple. Paul wrote, ‘For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[a] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Galatians 1.11-12
The Holy Spirit’s teaching is to glorify Jesus Christ by revealing all that is Christ’s and the Father’s. v14 We cannot fully understand the things of God without the assistance of the Holy Spirit revealing them to us. An intellectual understanding is not sufficient, faith itself is a gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not to devalue the importance of the intellectual integrity of the faith but the Christian experience is a relational experience in a way that an understanding of simple facts is not. The authority of the Spirit’s teaching is it comes from the Son and the Father. v13 Therefore the authority of scripture also has the authority of the full Godhead.
What are the things that you find more difficult to understand regarding New Testament teaching?
How can you find the answers to your questions?
Fall Afresh – Amanda Cook | Bethel Music Worship